Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: #Parenting, #Play, #SummerReading + #ReadingWithoutWalls

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include book lists, #ReadingWithoutWalls, diverse books, gender norms, reading choice, reading aloud, summer reading, parenting, schools, #EdTech, free speech, #Readathon2016, Sherlock Holmes, print books, play, recess, growing bookworms, physical education, and STEM. 

Book Lists (more lists under Summer Reading below):

Awesome! Ignite Her Curiosity: 25 Books Starring Science-Loving Mighty Girls  @amightygirl via @tashrow #STEM

Books for 3rd-5th grade Fairy Tale Lovers  #BookList from @frankisibberson #kidlit

The Best New Children's Books of Summer 2016  per @ImaginationSoup @ReadBrightly @JensBookPage #BookList #kidlit

RA RA Read: Scary Stories from Beginning ( #PictureBooks ) to End (middle grade + #GraphicNovels )  Jennifer Wharton

Ten “Comfort Food” Books/Series by Jennie Albrecht  @nerdybookclub #BookList

Diversity + Gender

ReadWithWalls-criteria-300x225On National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature @geneluenyang 's #ReadingWithoutWalls Challenge  @medinger

Guest Post @CynLeitichSmith | @leewind  on Little Pickle Press’ 7 Steps To Changing Kids' Publishing… + Our World 

Challenging Gender Norms with “Boys Read Pink” Celebration  | The fabulous @MsYingling shares @sljournal #kidlit

Events + Programs

NationalReadathonDayThumb2This sounds nice! Support Child #Literacy Via National #Readathon2016 Day, Sat. May 21, noon to 4  @GalleyCat

SLJ Day of Dialog 2016 Recap: Chicago Edition! — @fuseeight  @RichardPeckAuth keynote + more

Empowering Parents to Increase #Literacy in the Home: PCHP Approach  @parentchildhome @LEEandLOW @CynLeitichSmith

Growing Bookworms

Serendipity. "Browsing books w/ abandon develops vital skills readers need to find joy + competence"  @donalynbooks

Why every parent should read to their kids: vocabulary, listening skills + more  @malbers2 @Salon via @tashrow

5 Ways School Librarians Can Meet Needs of Students in Poverty  @jenniferlagarde Be A Reading For Pleasure Evangelist

I covet this awesome Make Time for Reading clock from @Scholastic | Here are more pix: 

Print at home #SummerReading Bookmarks to Color  from @momandkiddo

Higher Education

Why Free Speech Matters on Campus  Purpose of college #education isn't to affirm student beliefs, but to expand @WSJ

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Interesting take from @gail_gauthier on #SherlockHolmes as a 19th Century Superhero 

Guest Post @CynLeitichSmith | Jennifer Swanson on how authors can jump on #STEAM bandwagon  #nonfiction

Books are back. Only the technodazzled thought they would go away | Simon Jenkins  @GuardianBooks


Debunking the Myth of the 10,000-Hours Rule: What It Actually Takes to Reach Genius-Level Excellence  @brainpickings

#Bullying: Why Zero-Tolerance Doesn't Work  @HeatherShumaker reports on new @theNASEM report

We need to share our mistakes w/ kids so they know making mistakes is ok  @Jonharper70bd @BAMRadioNetwork #MyBad16

The Decisions I Don’t Regret – One Parent’s Take On Impossible Choices  @SheInTheCle via @ECEPolicyWorks

Mothers feel most stressed about #parenting when their kids are in middle school, study finds  @WSJ

Beyond Firefighters, Doctors + Ballerinas: Inspiring Kids to Break the Mold  @AndraAbramson @readingrainbow


Sigh! Lessons from ‘The Goonies,’ and from the loss of unsupervised time for kids  @byclintedwards @washingtonpost

It's not "Wasting Paper" if kids are #learning /discovering /exploring  @sxwiley #PlayfulLearning

How to Re-think #Recess so that it's Accessible To Everyone?  @LauraBarrEd #play #schools

The Privatization of Childhood #Play | the impact of formal playdates  @BigMeanInternet via @frankisibberson

On the benefits of giving kids choice | Choices allow children to #play in self-initiated ways  @sxwiley #ECE

Schools and Libraries (inc. #EdTech)

Cultivating Wild #Readers: 5 habits that translate well into classroom practice  @donalynbooks @Scholastic

16 Modern Realities Schools (and Parents) Need to Accept. Now.  @willrich45 @Medium #EdChat #EdTech

False promise of #EdTech in schools: "Technology may change quickly. Our brains don’t."  @DTWillingham @NYDailyNews

30 terrific (mainly UK) edu-tweeters you should follow per @InnovateMySchl #EdTech #EdChat

Stop drugging #ADHD kids — and start teaching them to use their gifts  @petershankman @nypost via @drdouggreen

Heisman Trophy Winner: Physical #Education Saved My Life, we need to invest in PE  @HerschelWalker  @educationweek


Code With Kids and See What Happens #hourofcode #edtech #edchat #caedchat  TK-5 Principal @awelcome via @drdouggreen

Why Teaching #Math (through #Play ) to Preschoolers Makes Sense + ways to do it  @easycda @BAMRadioNetwork #STEM

Summer Reading

6th Grade #SummerReading List For Globally Conscious Kids  @momandkiddo #BookList @Malala + more

Roundup of various #SummerReading Programs from @LiteracySpark  Adventures in #Literacy Land

It's time for 2016 #SummerReading Recommendations from @HornBook  Nice lists grouped by age, w/ printable PDF option

12 Tween Titles to Add to Your #SummerReading Lists  @thegoodread @sljournal #BookList

Kate DiCamillo’s Recommended #SummerReading for 2016  @booklistreader #kidlit

Integrating #Nonfiction into Your Summer Booktalking | Jennifer Wharton @sljournal  #kidlit

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Literacy Milestone: "Say It Like This"

LiteracyMilestoneAThe other day I was reading my daughter one of our favorite new picture books: Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. (I really must review this one - it is delightful). Lately she's been chiming in here and there when I am reading a book, and correcting me if I miss something. (The latter occurs frequently when I am sleepy.) But this time she took it a step further, and started making requests for me to change not WHAT I was saying but HOW I was saying it. 

Mother Bruce is about a grumpy bear who accidentally becomes the surrogate mother to four goslings. Bruce resists this. On one page, the text says: "Bruce could take it no longer and became EXTRA grumpy with them." A text bubble says: "ROAR!" in big letters. Well, I did say "ROAR!" but apparently I didn't say it loudly enough. My daughter gently chastised me. "Mama, it says he was EXTRA grumpy. Say it like this: ___". And then she roared quite loudly.

A few pages later Bruce is frustrated when the goslings refuse to migrate.  There's a page where the only text is "Sigh...". After I read this page I got another: "No, Mama, say it like this: ___". And then she said the gentlest "sigh", on a resigned little exhale. 

There are doubtless parents out there who would prefer not to have their reading style critiqued like this. But I found it to be an excellent sign regarding my daughter's appreciation for the read-aloud process. She's able to take in visual cues, like the size and color of the font, and she knows how one is supposed to respond to these cues. She can also take her cues from the text itself. The second example particularly pleases me, because it shows that she understands how the character is feeling, and wants to see that reflected in my reading. 

People who stop reading aloud to their kids just as the kids start reading on their own are missing out on many things. Watching your child develop a sense for how a read-aloud is supposed to sound is just one of them. But it's a particularly fun one, I think. 

What say you, fellow parents? Do your kids critique your read-aloud style? If not, just you wait... 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: Milestones, Not Overscheduling, and Favorite Picture Book Sequels

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter has refocused recently, and now contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, including bookworms, mathematicians, and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have two book reviews (one picture book and one middle grade) and three posts about my daughter's latest milestones (one regarding literacy, one math, and one art). I also have one post about the virtues and difficulties of not overscheduling kids. I also have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter, and two more with quotes from and responses to links about to the joy of learning. Not included in the newsletter, I shared an announcement about a new award from Hallmark for great picture books

Reading Update: In the past two weeks I read/listened to one middle grade and four adult titles. I read:

  • Lauren DeStefano: The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed May 17, 2016, print ARC. Review to come, closer to publication. 
  • Mette Ivie Harrison: The Bishop's Wife. Soho Crime. Adult Mystery. Completed May 7, 2016, on Kindle. This was an unusual story told from the viewpoint of the wife of a Mormon bishop. I learned things I didn't know about Mormom beliefs and customs, and quite liked the protagonist. I do expect to read the next book in this series. 
  • Jacqueline Winspear: Journey to Munich: A Maisie Dobbs Novel. Harper. Adult Mystery. Completed May 11, 2016, on MP3. The Maisie Dobbs series creeps closer and closer to World War II, as Maisie visits 1937 Munich for a dangerous undercover mission. 
  • Thomas Perry: Forty Thieves. Mysterious Press. Adult Mystery. Completed May 14, 2016, on Kindle. This standalone by Perry features two husband and wife sets of viewpoint characters, one a pair of former cops working as private investigators and the other a pair of assassins for hire. I found the mystery intriguing, but sometimes got confused as to which wife was narrating. 
  • Charlaine Harris: Night Shift: A Novel of Midnight, Texas. Ace Books. Adult Mystery. Completed May 17, 2016, on MP3. This is the third book in a new series by Harris, a distant spin-off of the Sookie Stackhouse books. I quite like the small town full of quirky supernatural characters.

I'm currently listening to Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson and reading The Importance of Being Little by Erika Christakis

The books my husband and I (and our babysitter) have been reading to our daughter in 2016 can be found here. We have discovered that not one, not two, but three of our very favorite picture books have sequels out or coming soon. I purchased The Not-So-Faraway Adventure by Andrew Larsen and Irene Luxbacher, sequel to The Imaginary Garden (reviewed here). I have a review copy coming for Sophie's Squash Go to School by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf (review of the first book here). And I have Louise and Andie: The Art of Friendship by Kelly Light on our wish list (review of Louise Loves Art here). I was also just quite pleased to overhear my daughter reading Elephant and Piggie books aloud, back to back, to her stuffed animals. 

Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @michellek107 + @ShawnaCoppola + @DonalynBooks + @HuffPostParents

JoyOFLearningLogoToday I have two articles about wanting kids to have intrinsic, vs. extrinsic, motivation for reading, and two that address the lack of play in early elementary school classrooms today. These are both topics near and dear to my heart, and I hope you will find these articles of interest. 

We Don’t Need Badges for #Reading | How a class lost intrinsic motivation when badges in app took over  @michellek107

Michelle Baldwin: "Just like that… my students’ motivation to read – because they love reading and want to learn more – flipped like a switch. This is what happens every single time we apply extrinsic motivation to something we want to encourage. EVERY. TIME. I’ve taught long enough to see cycles of rewards for reading… or learning to play the recorder… or learning multiplication tables… whatever you want to add to the list. You might help a kid memorize something or change a behavior, but extrinsic rewards always fail on a long-term basis. ...

I saw firsthand what happened to my littles when they were incentivized with something other than reading itself. They already loved reading… but then their focus changed for the worse. I have some “badge damage” to undo with a few of my kids."

Me: I see my daughter excited about coins and points in an app that she likes to play, and I cringe a bit. I worry about next year, when I believe she'll have to start logging Accelerated Reader points at school. I want her to her to read for the love of it, not for points or badges or gold stars. There's a nice list of references in Michelle's piece, if any of you would like to read more about this subject. 

Reading Is Its Own Reward: Ways to encourage kids' #SummerReading + the 7th Annual #Bookaday Challenge  @donalynbooks [This post is actually from last year, but I re-shared it. The 8th challenge is starting soon.]

Donalyn Miller: "While you may be able to share the success of individual summer reading programs, there is little evidence that such programs foster lifelong reading habits or engage children with reading after the program ends. I suspect that most schools with successful summer reading programs invest in students’ reading lives all year long. If we want to engage our students with reading over the summer, we must focus our efforts on the fundamental best practices that encourage children to read for a lifetime instead of short-term external goals."

Me: When I was a kid, I was never particularly motivated by summer reading programs. I do remember participating in the town library's program at least once, and I think I may have gotten a book at the end to show for it. But this memory pales in comparison to my many other childhood memories of being immersed in books in locations indoors and out. One of the reasons I loved summer as a kid was because I had more time to read. I was lucky. I had time. I had books. I had choice. I had a mom who took me to bookstores and the library. I had a library within biking distance (when I was old enough). I wish that all kids had such opportunities, and I'm glad to see Donalyn, in this important post, talking about what kids need from their schools to nurture the intrinsic rewards of reading.

I'm going to try to participate in Donalyn's #BookADay challenge again this summer (I did it last year). I'm sure I'll mostly end up posting about picture books, but I certainly average more than one of those a day, so it won't be difficult. My plan is to choose a book worth highlighting for each #BookADay post on Twitter. And because I'm a compulsive list-maker, I'll probably round them periodically on my blog. Happy Summer Reading to you all!

4 Things Worse than Not Learning to Read in Kindergarten (like lack of #play )  @HuffPostParents

Gaye Groover Christmus: "If your son or daughter doesn't learn to read in kindergarten, relax. Because many, many things are worse than not learning to read in kindergarten. Here are four of them: 

Limited time for creative play. Young children learn by playing. They learn by digging and dancing and building and knocking things down, not by filling out piles of worksheets. And they learn by interacting with other children, solving problems, sharing and cooperating, not by drilling phonics. "

Me: Gaye Groover Christmus seeks to reassure parents whose kids don't learn to read during kindergarten, citing the example of her own son who learned to read late, and just graduated from college. She goes on to discuss other issues prevalent in today's early elementary school classrooms: lack of creative play, limited physical activity, teaching that focuses on standards and testing, and "frustration and a sense of failure" in kids who are not meeting (unrealistic) expectations. I think that this last point is particularly important, because it is this frustration (the kid who can't sit still, the kid who struggles with the book report, etc.) that sucks away the joy of learning. 

5 Educational “What Ifs”  #Teaching improvement ideas from @ShawnaCoppola after reading @ErikaChristakis new book

Shawna Coppola: "WHAT IF we spent a year devoted to re-discovering our “play mojo”? We’ve heard a lot about the benefits of play over the past year, particularly about how it supports the development of speaking and listening skills, collaboration, and written expression, among other things. We also know that most children, no matter what their age, are over-scheduled and wracked with more anxiety than ever before. And even though we see play as a “natural” behavior, Christakis argues that, like breastfeeding (another supposedly natural behavior among humans), play “is actually quite hard to accomplish without intention and assistance”" 

Me: This post by Shawna Coppola, convinced me to take a look at Erika Christakis' book. I've quoted some of Erika's articles, but hadn't picked up the book because my own daughter is no longer in preschool. Shawna, however, draws conclusions from the book regarding the education of older kids, too. Shawna's post is well worth a read for anyone looking for ideas to improve classroom education for kids. The point about learning through play requiring intentional effort particularly resonated with me. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 

The Big Dark: Rodman Philbrick

Book: The Big Dark
Author: Rodman Philbrick
Pages: 192
Age Range: 8-12

The Big Dark, by Rodman Philbrick, is an apocalyptic survival story for middle grade readers. On New Year's Eve, narrator Charlie Cobb is outside with his family and friends watching for an expected dramatic display of the Northern Lights. Following an enormous flash in the sky, however, the residents of Harmony, NH (population 857) discover that nothing requiring electricity or using a battery works anymore: not cars, not generators, not flashlights. Certainly not central heating or water pumps. As some in the town band together, and others try to take control, Charlie and his sister stack wood and worry about their mom running out of medicine for her diabetes. Charlie ends up on a dangerous quest to try to find medicine, while the school custodian tries to keep things running smoothly in Harmony. 

The Big Dark reminded me a lot of One Second After by William R. Forstchen, an adult novel with a very similar premise (right down to diabetes of a loved one being a factor). The Big Dark is not nearly so bleak as an adult story, but does include enough danger to feel plausible. People die (offscreen) from cold, men with guns threaten Charlie at various points, and there is an instance of arson. Yet most of the people in Harmony, and the people Charlie encounters elsewhere, are fundamentally good. They line up for supplies. They tithe firewood to support the elderly residents. They have town meetings to decide what to do. While this may not all be entirely realistic, it works in this middle grade content. 

Although I love reading about the "what do we do now" kinds of practical questions that follow an apocalyptic event, my favorite part of The Big Dark was Charlie's quest for medicine, for which he skis out of town and into an unfriendly winter landscape. This is the part that I think will really hook young readers who crave adventure. 

The Big Dark is a quick read with short chapters. Charlie's first-person viewpoint lends an immediacy to the story that I think will work well for more reluctant readers. The characterization isn't especially detailed, but Philbrick keeps the action moving, while exploring themes or right and wrong. I didn't flag any passages to quote, because I just wanted to keep reading. And that's my best endorsement of a book these days: it made me want to keep turning the pages. Definitely recommended for library purchase, and a good introduction for middle grade readers to reading about post-apocalyptic landscapes. 

Publisher: Blue Sky Press (@Scholastic
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Mathematical Milestone: Counting Redeemable Cans Backwards from 100

MathMilestoneThe other day my daughter brought home Earth Day -- Hooray!! by Stuart J. Murphy and Renee Andriani as her book report book. It's about three kids who want to plant flowers in a local park that they are cleaning up for Earth Day. They decide to redeem cans to make money to buy the flowers, which their teacher tells them will take 5000 cans. They end up launching a can drive at their school and around their neighborhood, and of course succeed in time for Earth Day. There's a fair bit of math involved as they group the cans by 10s, 100s, and eventually 1000s, and add each day's haul to the total.

This type of overtly lesson-driven book would not normally be my personal cup of tea, but my daughter enjoyed it. And there are some cute details (e.g. squirrels helping to collect the cans). But I knew what was coming next. I read Earth Day -- Hooray!! to my daughter at breakfast. As soon as she got home from school she started digging through our kitchen recycle box, looking for cans. She is now on a mission, though she does seem to understand that 5000 cans would be too many to target on her own. She stood at my side while I drank my lunchtime Fresca, waiting impatiently for me to finish, so that she could have the can. 

She decided that she wanted to collect 100 cans, and then have them taken in for redemption. She seems to be motivated by a combination of environmentalism and an interest in the money. Where the math milestone for her comes in is that she is counting backwards from 100 as she adds cans to her bag. A friend kindly contributed a bag of cans (which my daughter simply had to go pick up within the hour). She counted them up, and excitedly came to me to say "We're in the 70s now." No, we don't have 70 cans, but we are in the 70s if we are counting backwards from 100.

So, redeeming aluminum cans turns out to be another unexpected way to incorporate math into the life of a six-year-old. Setting and counting down from targets, estimating how many cans can fit into one garbage bag, and, eventually, figuring out how much money she'll be due. Math is everywhere!

Thanks for reading! I hope that some of you will find this useful. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Announcing the Hallmark Great Stories Award for #PictureBooks

GREAT-STORIES_Seal_FINAL3I received an email today about a new award for picture books from Hallmark, complete with a cash prize for the author and illustrator of the winning book. From the email:

"For the inaugural year, judges include Betsy Bird, Alfredo Lujan, Alan Bailey and Cheri Sterman. Eligible books include those published by publishers in the United States between January 1 and December 31, 2016 and must be entered into the competition by the publisher. The inaugural winner will be announced in March 2017."

From the award website:

"Throughout its history, Hallmark has worked to enhance relationships and enrich lives in everything it does. Because stories are fundamental to how people connect with and understand each other, Hallmark has created the annual Hallmark Great Stories Award.

The award recognizes excellence in writing and illustration in new children’s picture books that celebrate family, friendship and community.

Picture books published in the United States in 2016 will be considered for the inaugural year of the award. The inaugural winner will be announced in March 2017.

Picture books are nominated by publishers and the winner is selected by an esteemed panel of judges including experts in the fields of children’s storytelling, literacy, child development and library science. Each year a senior Hallmark artist and writer also are chosen to participate on the selection committee.

The award includes a Hallmark Great Stories Award medal and a cash prize of $10,000 to be shared by the book’s author(s) and illustrator(s), or granted entirely to the sole creator if it is written and illustrated by the same person."

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: #BookLists Galore, #SummerReading + the Achievement Gap

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. I have rather a full slate of links this week, because I was catching up after traveling last week. Topics this week include the Children's Choice Book Awards, book lists (many!), the Cybils Awards, growing bookworms, Summer Reading, libraries, schools, celebrity children's books, picture books, growth mindset, play, education gap, Facebook, gender, Roald Dahl, and STEM. 


2016 Children’s Choice Book Awards have been announced  @tashrow has the scoop, as usual. @CBCBook 

Book Lists

50 Sensational Books of Summer  @Scholastic 2016 #SummerReading list #kidlit #Booklist

Shape Books That Think Outside the Box (Board Book Edition)  @housefullbkwrms #BookList

Fun! Beyond Lift the Flap: Interactive #PictureBooks for Kids of various ages  @momandkiddo #BookList

Favorite Children’s Books About Weather  The water cycle, rain + more from @rebeccazdunn #kidlit

Stories with Science Experiments, a #BookList from Jennifer Wharton  #kidlit

A Springtime #KidLit Round-Up  @RandomlyReading #BookList

50 Great Historical Fiction Books for Readers 7-14 Years  @TrevorHCairney #BookList #kidlit

The Best New Children's Books of Summer 2016  per @ImaginationSoup @ReadBrightly #BookList #kidlit

You Gotta Have Heart: Out-of-the-Park #Baseball Novels For Middle Grade Readers  #BookList @sljournal #kidlit

The Best Books for Middle School According to @pernilleripp 's Students |  #kidlit #YA #BookList

A Tuesday Ten: A Science Fiction Pathway VII (15-18 year-olds)  @TesseractViews Huxley, Asimov + more #SF


On the #Cybils blog: Interview with JonArno Lawson + Sydney Smith re: fiction +PictureBook winner SIDEWALK FLOWERS 

On the #Cybils blog: #BookList Fun: Cybils Books of Jewish Interest  @heidiestrin

Diversity + Gender

Boy Books, Girl Books, + Missing Out on Anne Frank b/c it might make boys "uncomfortable"  @alisoncdoherty @BookRiot

Events + Programs (inc. Summer Reading)

ReadingSuperheroThe 2016 @Scholastic #SummerReading Challenge has begun!  w/ stories from 19 authors inc. @varianjohnson @StudioJJK

Getting Books into Students' Hands for #SummerReading  @ClareandTammy @ChoiceLiteracy

Penguin Random House Announces New Award to highlight extraordinary programs in public #libraries  @randomhousekids

Partnerships Promote Culture of #Reading at Texas Elementary School  @sljournal

Growing Bookworms

Life After (being consumed by) Harry Potter by Dawn Michelle Brown  @nerdybookclub #kidlit #LoveOfBooks

Between Picture Books and Middle Grade Novels: Beyond Levels Part I (matching books to readers)  @alybee930 #kidlit

When Your Kids Don't Love Your Favorite Childhood Stories  @RebeccaSchorr @BookRiot

When Storytime Blows Kids' Minds: The Power Of The Plot Twist + the joy of an excited kid  @nprbooks

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

The History Of Children's Books from 1693 to now  Byrd Pinkerton @npr_ed #kidlit

Can Adult Authors Be Taught?: Considering the Alternative Celebrity Children’s Book  @FuseEight #kidlit

In Praise of #PictureBooks (+ continuing to read them when older) by Randall de Seve @nerdybookclub

Roald Dahl's "subversive, un-PC writing... is a breath of fresh air" notes @femmorrison  @HuffPostAU @PWKidsBookshelf

Reading Through Trauma: How Story Helped Us Navigate Challenging Days  Lauren Davis @ReadBrightly

Why headteacher who believes reading Harry Potter causes mental illness is wrong  Samantha Shannon @GdnChildrensBks

Positive Life Lessons from Harry Potter + Other Fantasy Novels  @JenniBuchanan @readingrainbow #Gandalf + more

8 Reasons Why People (and I) Buy Books ("Entertain me now" + more)  @StaceyLoscalzo


Talking About Failure: What Parents Can Do to Motivate Kids in School  @tarahaelle @MindShiftKQED #GrowthMindset

The 3 Most Important Questions You Can Ask Your Teenager - let's go back to basics  @HuffPostEdu via @SophieBlackall


Playing to Become Part of Society at ages 6-12  @sxwiley discusses David Elkind's book on #play

#Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.”  @GeorgeCouros

Schools and Libraries

What Young Men Of Color Can Teach Us About The Achievement Gap  @npr_ed #EdChat #schools

Data show segregation by income (not race) is what's getting worse in #schools  @jillbarshay @hechingerreport

This is lovely! Teacher Gives Best #Homework Ever Before Standardized Tests  @ScaryMommy via @RaiseAnAdult


How Teens Benefit From #Reading About the Struggles of Scientists  @dfkris @MindShiftKQED #GrowthMindset #STEM


Former @facebook   Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News from "trending" section  @Gizmodo

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Literacy Milestone: Life Imitating Art with Safety Tips

LiteracyMilestoneAThe other day I stood very briefly on my (wheeled) office chair to reach the inkjet printer refills from the cabinet above my desk. My daughter caught me and chastised me for doing something unsafe. Then she left the room giggling. A few minutes later she came back and taped the following sign to the wall near my desk (where I can't miss it):


I believe that she did have some spelling help from her babysitter. She later added a little checkmark to the upper left-hand corner, to mark the one incident of my standing on the chair. She told me that if I had two more incidents, I would lose access to my wheeled office chair. This actually does not seem unreasonable. She added a couple of other safety tips over the course of the afternoon (thankfully not in response to actual safety violations):




These safety tips were, of course, inspired by the delightful, Caldecott-winning picture book Officer Buckle and Gloria, by Peggy Rathmann. I'm sure that there will be more. But what I loved about this incident was the way my daughter took immediate action, and put her thoughts to paper. The fact that she was bringing a beloved book to life was certainly a bonus, though.  

Clearly I will have to be more careful in the future. Office Buckle, Gloria, and my six-year-old are all counting on me. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

#JoyOfLearning Articles from @SergioRuzzier + @KateyWrites + David Brooks + @MarkBarnes19 + @MsSackstein

JoyOFLearningLogoI'm just catching up now after traveling last week/weekend. Today I have quotes from five articles that I've recently shared on Twitter that I think are particularly worthy of additional discussion. Two are about raising readers in general, and giving kids choice about what they read in particular. One is about GPAs, grit, and finding your passion. The last two are about homework and teaching with the interests of child and family in mind. To me, all of these articles touch on the central questions of how we can make reading and learning more joyful and rewarding (and less painful) experiences for kids. I welcome your feedback!

So right! We should let kids read anything they want, w/o imposing on them our adult ... prejudices  @SergioRuzzier

Sergio Ruzzier: "What’s wrong with trying to read a “difficult” book, if that’s the book that is inspiring a child to read? They will understand all of it or parts of it, or they might discover something that not even the author was aware of. They might love or hate the book, read it from cover to cover or abandon it after the first few lines. All this happens to any reader anyway, no matter the age...

Age-labeling is yet another obstacle to reading, and if we restrict what kids can read freely, many may never come to love books. We should let children read anything they want, without imposing on them our adult insecurities and prejudices."

Me: Sergio Ruzzier hits it out of the park with this post at Nerdy Book Club. He defends the rights of kids to read books that adults might deem to young for them and books that might seem to old for them. His focus is on kids being able to read the books that seem right for them at the time. This, my friends, is how you raise kids who love books!

Great advice here! 8 Small Tools That Parents can use to Make Reading A Big Deal  @Kateywrites #RaisingReaders

Katey Howes: "6. Your open mind: The books your child (or grandchild, or student) enjoys reading may not always be the books you WISH he would read. (I’d personally give a lot of money to not have to discuss Captain Underpants any further!) But giving children the right to choose books that interest them, without judgement or criticism based on reading level or subject matter, is crucial. Ask questions about what your child is reading, and be enthusiastic about their choices. In this way you build confident, empowered readers – who are more likely to KEEP reading."

Me: I like the mix of practicality and passion that Katey Howes brings to this article about encouraging kids to love books. From reminding us to visit the library (where circulation numbers help to influence funding) to promoting reading choice (even when this is tedious for parents), Katey clearly knows from experience what she is talking about. Even for me, someone who thinks about this all the time, this piece offered some good suggestions and reminders. 

Interesting thoughts on #grit re: what students care about vs. GPA-driven mentality  David Brooks @nytopinion

Interesting thoughts on David Brooks: "Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject. In life we want independent thinking and risk-taking, but the G.P.A. system encourages students to be deferential and risk averse, giving their teachers what they want...

I don’t know about you, but I’m really bad at being self-disciplined about things I don’t care about. For me, and I suspect for many, hard work and resilience can only happen when there is a strong desire. Grit is thus downstream from longing. People need a powerful why if they are going to be able to endure any how."

Me: This OpEd piece by David Brooks is fairly brief, but really resonated with me. Brooks talks about the inherent conflict between the skills that kids need to get a good GPA vs. the skills that they'll need to excel in life, and how that conflict plays out in the presence of focusing on grit. The part about being best at being self-disciplined when you care about something is so, so true. I'm still working for myself on spending more of my time on things that really matter to me, and I worry about my six-year-old, as she heads into the GPA-focused school years... 

6 Bad Reasons Teachers Assign #Homework and Why Each One Sucks  @markbarnes19 #EdChat

Mark Barnes: "Begin by discarding the worksheets, workbooks, and mundane rote memory activities. Instead, provide kids with choices about what they want to learn and how they want to learn it. Consider the skill or concept you’re teaching, and brainstorm ways that students can extend the learning in ways that they will enjoy.

Instead of assigning do-this-tonight-and-turn-it-in-tomorrow activities, provide multiple options that kids can do at their leisure outside of class and ask them to share their approaches later in the week.

Think about what students like to do: play games, use social media, read content they choose that is enjoyable and relevant to them, explore, talk to fascinating adults, and shop. How can these activities engage students in what you are teaching?"

Me: This article is a synopsis of a more detailed podcast, but I think that the text version does a fine job of capturing the essentials. I especially appreciated Barnes' dismantling, in a single paragraph, of the argument that homework teaches responsibility. He also laments how slow the pace of change is in the educational system. This is one that gets me. It seems like the research on homework is pretty clear: it is NOT helpful. But what is it going to take to get change made in actual schools? I wish I knew... But I'll keep sharing articles like this in the  meantime. 

Good stuff! How Being a Mom Changed My Teaching  @mssackstein @educationweek

Starr Sackstein: "My stance on homework has changed a lot since having a school-aged child as well. I value home time differently and therefore have worked hard to make homework (when necessary) flexible. Projects are done over time rather than on demand. This way I can respect the sanctity of what happens in the home and with the family."

Me: Starr Sackstein identifies a number of positive changes to her teaching after having a child of her own. The one that resonated with me, of course, is that she tries much harder to make homework flexible (or not assign it at all), to respect family time. I feel like if more teachers had fought this battle personally, in their own homes, there would be less homework in schools. But perhaps I am being overly optimistic. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 

This is not a picture book! Sergio Ruzzier

Book: This is not a picture book!
Author: Sergio Ruzzier
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-6

This is not a picture book! by Sergio Ruzzier is about a yellow duck who is initially outraged to discover a book that doesn't have any picture. His insect friend is baffled (calling the very idea of a book without pictures "wacky"), but asks if Duck is able to read the book. He is! Inside the book he finds words that are funny, sad, wild, and peaceful, among others.

The reader sees the mood that Duck is experiencing on each page through Ruzzier's lovely pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations. My favorite is "and peaceful words", with which we see Duck lounging in a rowboat on a pink sea, with multicolored hills and clouds in the distance. If I had a print of that page, I would think seriously about putting it on my wall, to remind me of calm. The end of the book, where we see that Duck has been in his room the whole time, imagining the various scenes, is one that will resonate with book lovers everywhere. 

This is not a picture book! uses minimal text. My six year old daughter wanted to read the words herself our first time through, though I did offer some commentary. I only had to help her with a couple of less familiar words - this is definitely a book that can function as an early reader. 

The duck in the book bears a strong resemblance to the duck in Ruzzier's Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? (which my daughter and I love). My daughter actually thought that is was the same duck, though the two ducks are different colors. Ruzzier's illustration style is distinct, and perfect for this gentle but profound little book. I love his use of color, and the quirky supporting characters that show up in Duck's imagination. 

This is not a picture book! is one that I doubt librarians or book-loving parents will be able to resist. Ruzzier uses a picture book to convey the wonder of books that are only illustrated inside the reader's imagination. This would be an absolutely perfect book with which to introduce the idea of starting family chapter book read-alouds or audiobook listens. Fans of Ruzzier's work will also want to check this one out. This one is going on our keep shelf. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

On the Virtues of Not Over-Scheduling

I try not to over-schedule my daughter (who just turned six). This is harder than I ever would have imagined. There are so many things she could do, should do, wants to do, and/or could learn from in some way. We are constantly seeking the balance that is right for her and for our family. Sometimes things get a little out of whack (for example, when seasonal activities don't line up quite right), but we keep trying.


One thing that helps is the fact that my daughter seems to understand herself, and to know that she doesn't like it when she is over-scheduled. She recently opted not to do our local Swim Team this summer, despite the compelling fact that many of her friends are on the team. Selfishly, I was happy about this choice, but I truly do think that it was better for my daughter. She needs downtime. She needs time for unstructured play. She needs time to just goof around and try things out. She needs time to read and be read to. She just needs time.

She had this afternoon mostly free (except for an hour for karate class). She used the time to rearrange my office (sigh), start reading a middle grade book (she did not get far, but I applauded the effort), build some things with Legos, brainstorm a poem that she wants to write for next week's Teacher Appreciation Day, and learn to ride a bike without training wheels. I would say that this is a pretty typical day, but the truth is that there is no typical day when you are six years old and provided with free time. [Of course the bicycle was an accomplishment, of which she is quite proud.] 

It's not that Swim Team (or piano lessons or softball or tennis or whatever else we might have chosen) wouldn't have been valuable in a different way. But I can't let go of the feeling that having big chunks of free time to dabble about is more valuable. At least for now, when she is six years old. And the fact that at six she thinks so too is pretty much all I need to know. 

I have read a number of books and articles over the past couple of years that make this point, from Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy to It's OK to Go Up the Slide by Heather Shumaker to Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte to Free to Learn by Peter Gray. But I think that the reason all of these books have resonated with me has been that they coincide with my own instincts on this topic.

When I was a kid I had a few structured activities over the years: summer day camp one summer, swim lessons for a season or two, skating for a season or two. But mostly, I played, either alone or with other kids. Some of that play involved group games in the street or outings with friends or playing Barbies in my room with my best friend. But a lot of it was time spent at home, reading, writing, climbing trees, making dioramas and paper dolls, and so on.

I understand that my daughter doesn't have the same options to just go play around the neighborhood that I did. I do work to ensure that, as an only child, she get time to play with other kids. She needs that. But she also needs time to just putter about, pursuing her own interests. And I feel that it's my job to make sure that she gets it. Even when it's hard to say no. Even when she is missing out on enriching activities.

She is six. She has the rest of her life to fill up her schedule. For now, I want to let her play. 

How do other parents handle this, I wonder? Does it get harder as the kids get older (I can't imagine otherwise)? 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links.